Allah says in Quran, “Wa maa khalaqtul jinna wal insa illa li ya’budoon” i.e., I have not created the jinns and humans except for worshipping (me). (Al Quran 51:56). However, Sufis interpret ‘ya’budoon’ (worshipping) as‘ya’refoon’ (recognizing or experiencing) as is substantiated by the famous Hadith-e-Qudsi which reads, “Kuntu kanzan makhfiyya fa ahbabtu an au’rafa fa khalaqtul khalq” (Allah says, “I was a hidden treasure. I wanted to be recognised and so created the creation”). Hence, the very purpose of our creation is to recognise Him. Now the question arises, how to know Him? There is a famous Hadith-e-Ihsaan in answer to this question and which also forms the basis of Sufi path. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says “Worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state then at least feel as He is seeing you”.
This is the beginning of search for God or an ultimate experience of finding oneself in real terms - as, basically, one’s own existence makes him aware of everything in and around him. Sufis refer first part of Hadith as Mushahida, and the second part as “Muraqba”. It can also be inferred from this Hadith that Mushahida is superior to Muraqba. To attain this state, Sufis practice dhikr, ashghaal etc. to purify their souls. However, it does not mean that they do not observe other basic Islamic practices, rather on the contrary only then Salaat, Saum, Zakaat and Hajj become meaningful which, otherwise, remain just superficial acts without any power of transforming a human life.